[Dave Birch] For people who think I’m always going on about NFC but it’s not really that important, take a look at this news item from Tapei. The Farglory Group, a leading property developer in Taiwan, has announced that the residents of its four new complexes in Taipei County will be the first in the world to open their doors with their cellphones. This seems logical to me: I’d much rather use my own mobile phone for identity management and both logical and physical access control than some additional piece of plastic. The rationale in Taiwan is that since mobiles are a virtual necessity for most people, and since most people have one, then why not use them to replace house keys as well as cameras, music players and just about everything else. Farglory chairman Chao Teng-hsiung says

Instead of flipping through a big bundle of clinking keys, our residents just have to flash their mobile phones in front of a sensor to enter their homes.

The company will give two BenQ T80 handsets — the first NFCs phone made by a Taiwanese company — to each of the 5,990 apartments. There’s a fallback, of course, for people who forget their phones or for the kids in the family who don’t have one of the NFC devices: they can get it using the fingerprint identification system. The access control system will be applied to all of Farglory’s future housing projects as well.

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There’s an NFC story from the U.K. today as well. Our window into the future, Transport for London, has begun a pilot scheme that will see maps, directions and real-time travel advice transmitted from posters to mobile phones. The three-month trial, centered around Blackfriars Underground station, will employ NFC tags embedded in a number of ‘touchpoint’ posters. The project, named VORTIX (Visualization of Real-time Transport Interchange), is a collaboration between Transport for London, Imperial College London and transport intelligence company Kizoom. It has received funding from a Department for Trade and Industry technology development award that a TfL-led consortium won in the 2006 DTI Spring Competition for its Real-time Integration Programme (RTIP). The trial will involve the installation of 19 smart posters in and around Blackfriars LU station, including underpasses, and will be trialled in the first instance by a small number of people with specially enabled handsets. As the pilot progresses the number of handsets will increase and by the end of the year there will be up to 500 handsets in use. A passenger taking part in the experiment will input a destination into their NFC enabled phone and then, when changing modes of transport at Blackfriars station, will be able to use a touchpoint poster. Within a second, specially-designed software will give detailed travel information on the phone handset’s screen, including a map of the station and surrounding area and real-time travel information. The touchpoint posters, of course, do not require a power source because they are powered by induction from the mobile phone handset. Having been involved in a couple of smart poster pilots myself, I can testify to how simple, attractive and user-friendly they are. I expect to see a lot more of these tags around — in posters, magazine covers, books and so on — over the next couple of years.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

1 comment

  1. There are a number of barriers & network effects which make this a difficult experiment … it reminds me of the mondex pilots where a small number of card holders were looking for a small number of washing machines.
    Let me suggest: instead of boring travel instructions to people who know the area well … if they were to put a poster in a pub with instructions leading to the next pub … which also had a poster for the next pub … I think it might overcome the network effects in a most liquid fashion.

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